It is estimated that about 18 women die of stroke every day in Canada, yet most do not recognize the risks they face.
According to a new Heart & Stroke Foundation report, women are one-third more likely to die of stroke than men, but only 60 percent know what a stroke is and 36 percent can recognize the key symptoms.
Many of the reasons for the differences between how men and women are affected by stroke are only just beginning to emerge, and the report calls for more research to fully understand the implications. Some of the discrepancies are attributed to the fact that women live longer and tend to suffer strokes when they are older and dealing other health conditions that can complicate recovery, though younger women face elevated risks particularly during pregnancy and after menopause.
The report also states that most women – 70 percent – don’t know any of the main risk factors for stroke, and only 25 percent know that high blood pressure is a risk factor, let alone the number one risk factor. Additional risk factors common to both men and women include diabetes, atrial fibrillation or an irregular heartbeat, and lifestyle – such as poor diet, lack of exercise, obesity or smoking.
It’s important for women to not only understand the risks, but also know how to recognize the signs of a stroke which can be summed up in the acronym FAST:
Women are urged to listen to your bodies – if you think something is wrong, follow-up with your doctor or health care provider.
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